Thursday, October 23, 2008

Coming around

I've been helping with a 1st grade student who has a history of running from class. Mom was insisting that he get a one on one assistant to "keep him safe," refused to consent to testing for autism, insisted he spend most of his time in the general education classroom despite him getting no meaningful work done (as well as being in heightened state of anxiety) and generally being unpleasant to work with. She was afraid that if we found him eligible for special education services for autism and started serving him in the resource room part of the time we would secretly be moving toward sending him to a different school. We had a really hard time convincing her we had no intention of changing the student's placement - and we really didn't. He wouldn't qualify for a different placement under the district's guidelines and we were all certain that we could meet his needs in the home school. We did feel like he needed a good deal of time in the resource room initially because we needed to work on desensitizing him to different elements of the school - such as the overhead machine, singing, the school bathroom, etc.
We were making some progress with Mom and then the student ran from a classroom, got outside and was two blocks down the street before he was caught. Everyone freaked out. The student was temporarily put in the resource room for most of his day without really getting Mom's permission for what amounts to an official placement change, confusing paperwork was sent home that made it look like we were going to keep him in the resource room 100% of his day, it became evident that he wasn't really getting the skills training he needed and mom decided she wasn't going to send him to school again until we had a meeting.
At the meeting following the running incident we were able to come to an agreement wherein he would spend 2 hours a day in the resource room and the rest of the time he would be in general education with support. We hammered out a calendar, decided on target behaviors, created a plan to desensitize him to his triggers and assigned our skills trainer to work with him.
Three weeks later he has been spending time in the general education classroom alone, gotten over the overhead projector (mostly), participated in a couple of assemblies and even initiated conversations with other kids. This is enormous progress.
At his meeting yesterday, Mom consented to his eligibility as a student with autism and thanked everyone for their work. She really came around to the idea that he's got to have some time to work on skills acquisition away from his triggers and everyone agreed that he should be in the general ed classroom as much as possible. It was a good place to be in considering the fact that it seemed like Mom was thinking about suing the school district just a month ago.
Of course, the student ran later that same day and got outside - though not to the street. Not that that fact undoes all of our work but I'm sure it was a drag for the principal to make that phone call home.

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